Evening Blues Preview 7-17-15

This evening's music features blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Lowell Fulson.

Here are some stories from tonight's posting:

Eurozone ready to start formal talks with Greece over €86bn bailout

The eurozone is ready to start formal talks with Athens over an €86bn (£60bn) bailout, paving the way for a month of wrangling over the bitterly disputed question of easing Greece’s debt burden.

Greece is also getting a €7bn emergency bridging loan from an EU-wide rescue fund, ensuring it will not crash out of the eurozone on Monday when a critical debt repayment falls due.

The emergency €7bn loan was approved with the unanimous consent of 27 EU countries, after the UK and other non-eurozone countries were offered safeguards aimed at protecting their taxpayers from a Greek default.

Clearing EU Hurdles, Greek Austerity Package Moves Forward

The German Parliament on Friday voted yes on entering a new round of negotiations for a Greek bailout, and the European Union formally approved a bridging loan—two steps that move the controversial €86 billion rescue package for debt-ridden Greece forward past a significant hurdle.

With tempers running high in the streets on Friday, members of German Parliament cast their ballots on Greece's financial future following a tenacious—if rambling—speech by finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Both he and Merkel said the deal was a "last attempt" to help Greece, which has taken two previous bailouts in the past five years.

Germany is not the only country voting on the bailout on Friday. Austria approved it earlier in the day, and next in line are Latvia and Estonia.

EFSM: Council approves €7bn bridge loan to Greece

On 17 July 2015, the Council adopted a decision granting up to €7.16bn in short term financial assistance to Greece under the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM).

The loan will have a maximum maturity of three months and will be disbursed in up to two instalments. It will allow Greece to clear its arrears with the IMF and the Bank of Greece and to repay the ECB, until Greece would start receiving financing under a new programme from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). ...

The Council also adopted a decision approving a macro-economic adjustment programme setting out specific economic policy conditions attached to the financial assistance. The reforms undertaken by Greece are aimed at improving the sustainability of its public finances and the regulatory environment. Specifically, Greece was required to adopt legislation to reform its VAT and pension systems, strengthen the governance of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), and implement by 15 July 2015 the relevant provisions of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance. The adjustment programme will be set out in a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

The financial assistance would be disbursed once the MOU and a loan facility agreement setting out in detail the financial terms have entered into force. Both are to be signed by the Commission and the Greek authorities.

Lapavitsas Calls for Exit as the Only Strategy for Greek People

Germany, Not Greece, Should Exit the Euro

Now that the idea of exit is in the air ... it's worth thinking beyond the current political reality and considering who should go. Were Greece to leave, possibly followed by Portugal and Italy in the subsequent years, the countries' new currencies would fall sharply in value. This would leave them unable to pay debts in euros, triggering cascading defaults. Although the currency depreciation would eventually make them more competitive, the economic pain would be prolonged and would inevitably extend beyond their borders.

If, however, Germany left the euro area -- as influential people including Citadel founder Kenneth Griffin, University of Chicago economist Anil Kashyap and the investor George Soros have suggested -- there really would be no losers.

A German return to the deutsche mark would cause the value of the euro to fall immediately, giving countries in Europe's periphery a much-needed boost in competitiveness. Italy and Portugal have about the same gross domestic product today as when the euro was introduced, and the Greek economy, having briefly soared, is now in danger of falling below its starting point. A weaker euro would give them a chance to jump-start growth. If, as would be likely, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Finland followed Germany's lead, perhaps to form a new currency bloc, the euro would depreciate even further.

The disruption from a German exit would be minor. Because a deutsche mark would buy more goods and services in Europe (and in the rest of the world) than does a euro today, the Germans would become richer in one stroke. Germany's assets abroad would be worth less in terms of the pricier deutsche marks, but German debts would be easier to repay. ...

Perhaps the greatest gain would be political. Germany relishes the role of a hegemon in Europe, but it has proven unwilling to bear the cost. By playing the role of bully with a moral veneer, it is doing the region a disservice. Rather than building "an ever closer union" in Europe, the Germans are endangering its delicate fabric. To stay close, Europe's nations may need to loosen the ties that bind them so tightly.

China and Greece Wobble, Canada Dips Into Recession, Yellen Unfazed

Protesters were throwing fire bombs in the streets of Athens last evening over harsh new austerity measures being imposed on Greece, where banks and the stock market remain shuttered. One third of the stocks on the Chinese stock market remain suspended from trading in an effort to avert a crash. Bloomberg Business is reporting that institutional investors are holding the highest levels of cash since shortly after the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008. And just yesterday, America’s largest export market, Canada, slashed interest rates as its central bank announced its economy had contracted in the first two quarters of this year.

The global landscape is beginning to look like the inevitable dystopian reality of a world ruled by the 1 percent.

Against this backdrop, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, with her incessant chatter about raising interest rates before the year is out to dampen the potential for an overheating economy in the U.S., is increasingly sounding like the weatherman who is forecasting sunshine and clear skies without bothering to pull back the drapes to see gale force winds, a torrential downpour and rowboats in the streets. ...

Since the Wall Street induced financial crash in 2008, unfortunately, the “natural sequence” has been tepid U.S. growth in the range of 2 percent with periodic quarters of contraction. That tide continues to lift a lot of boats on Wall Street, but around the U.S. and around the globe we are witnessing sinking and leaky boats. ...

There is a growing feeling as we look at debt strapped Detroit, Puerto Rico, Greece and China, that the debt liquidation cycle that should have played out after the 2008 crash, was artificially preempted by central bankers in the U.S. and around the world flooding the markets with liquidity and postponing the day of reckoning. ... At some point in the not so distant future, Yellen is going to have to walk back her rate hike talk. Expect to hear a lot of finger-pointing at Greece, China, the Eurozone and Canada and none at Wall Street, the casino that broke the banks in 2008.

First US-Trained Rebels, All 54 of Them, Enter Syria

A convoy of vehicles crossed into Syria from neighboring Turkey, and are being called the “New Syrian Force” by Pentagon officials. 30 vehicles strong, the force amounts to 54 fighters with some rudimentary training and some pricey US aid.

The Pentagon is refusing to confirm the details of the new deployment of NSF fighters, saying that for “operational security” they aren’t allowed to discuss where they are and what they’re doing. ... CENTCOM spokesman Major Curtis Kellogg did, however, insist that the NSF personnel are going to be “countering ISIS” now that their training is over. With 54 troops, however, the real question is whether ISIS will even notice they’re being confronted by this new faction.

How Racist Is Solitary Confinement?

A new study authored by health officials with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) shows that racial disparities in jail run far deeper: black and Hispanic inmates are vastly more likely to be punished with solitary confinement than their white counterparts, and less likely to receive diagnoses of mental illness. The study, which is based on the records of 45,000 first-time inmates in the New York City jail system between 2011 and 2013, found that black people were 2.52 times more likely than whites to be put in solitary, where inmates spend 22 to 24 hours a day alone in a cell. Hispanics were 1.65 times more likely to enter solitary. And while blacks and Hispanics represented 40 and 46 percent of the study population, respectively, they comprised a much smaller portion of those admitted to the jail system’s mental health service: 16 and 13 percent. Twenty-two percent of mental health patients were white, though they made up just 9 percent of the study.

The federal government does not keep track of the racial composition of the roughly 80,000 people in solitary in America, though the study findings fall in line with data from a handful of states suggesting that people of color in other jurisdictions are locked in extreme isolation at similarly disproportionate rates.

“Jail is a microcosm of society,” said Dr. Daniel Selling, who ran mental health services at Rikers until mid-2014. “A lot of society thinks that black and brown people are criminals.” Diagnosing mental disorders is a very subjective process, he added. “You’re using objective criteria, but three different people could come up with three different diagnoses.” Racial bias creeps in. White inmates, the study found, are more likely to be diagnosed with mental problems that are generally thought to be more “legitimate,” disorders like anxiety or depression — afflictions that respond well to medication. White patients are also more likely to be diagnosed with “serious mental illnesses” like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, both of which exempt prisoners from solitary in New York state, can help them secure benefits when they’re released, and tend to elicit more sympathy. Whites are also more often diagnosed within seven days of being incarcerated.

Although jail medical staff are less likely to give black and Hispanic patients a mental health diagnosis, when they do they will more often assign these inmates mood, adjustment or antisocial personality disorders. The latter can be “pejorative,” Selling said, meaning the diagnosis is more of a reflection of a negative interaction between the patient and the clinician, “where maybe somebody was a dick because they were angry or they were frustrated.”

“It’s like a scarlet letter,” Selling adds. Clinicians who see the patient down the line will expect “someone who is going to be manipulative, who is going to be gaming the system, who is going to be aggressive.”

Hillary Clinton's plan for the minimum wage: low on details, big on going local

The Democratic presidential candidate has seemingly punted the idea of a federal minimum wage – a departure from her fellow Democrats on the trail

Hillary Clinton might have rolled out her economic policy on Monday, but many specifics of what she intends to do as president of the United States remain unclear. Among them: the federal minimum wage.

The former secretary of state and current frontrunner for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination has so far declined to say what she thinks would be the ideal national minimum wage. While campaigning in New Hampshire this week, she implied that the ideal wage might differ depending on location.

“I support the local efforts that are going on that are making it possible for people working in certain localities to actually earn $15,” Clinton said in a response to a question from a BuzzFeed News reporter on Thursday while campaigning in New Hampshire.

Among those opposing raising the federal minimum wage are businesses big and large. As she has campaigned the past few months, more than once Clinton has said she wants to be a small-business president, and referring the issue of minimum wage increases to local government could be just the way to win them over.

Other Democratic presidential candidates have a different approach.

Also of interest:

The Chattanooga Shootings: Can Attacking Military Sites of a Nation at War be "Terrorism"?

How Belgian anti-Greece hawk Verhofstadt hid his financial interest in Greek energy privatisations

The end of capitalism has begun

The Next Gaza War

Economic Update: Capitalism and Its Others

The Troubling Implications of Hillary's Anti-BDS Letter

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elenacarlena's picture

about Hillary. I'm still trying to figure out the facts about her as opposed to the rhetoric. The more I learn, the more I think she might should have been a Republican. Meanwhile, this week's Les Beastiables is up here! Hope everyone who hasn't seen it yet will go take a look.

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In just three months after announcing her candidacy for president, her polling numbers have decreased from 46 percent to 39 percent, according to an AP-GfK poll. “I used to like her, but I don’t trust her,” said former supporter Donald Walters. “Ever since she’s announced her candidacy for the presidency I just haven’t liked the way she’s handled things. She doesn’t answer questions directly.”

Voters’ descriptions of Hillary are not that flattering now either. Only three in 10 voters say Clinton is “honest,” and four in 10 voters describe Clinton as “compassionate.” Clinton’s trick is to remain silent, see what liberal voters like, steal those talking points, and make them her own. Voter Stephanie Bergholdo said that Clinton is “piggybacking” on what Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) say.

Clinton is an average candidate who voters describe as “run-of-the-mill.” She’s no different than the stuffy corporate types on Capitol Hill. If Clinton wins the White House, it will be business as usual in Washington D.C. True change and progress will remain a distant dream.


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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

elenacarlena's picture

talking points. That would be fine if she said something like, "Liz has convinced me". As it is, it just makes me (and others, I'm sure) wonder whether she will follow through on these promises if elected. Even if we didn't agree on everything, I think she'd be a much better candidate if she would just speak from the heart.

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